Calgary, Alberta welcome Mphasis and quantum computing

This Feb. 27, 2018, photo shows a seven cubit quantum device is seen at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Describing the inner workings of a quantum computer isn't easy, even for top scholars. That's because the machines process information at the scale of elementary particles such as electrons and photons, where different laws of physics apply. AP Photo / Seth Wenig

Calgary will be getting hundreds more tech jobs with the arrival of tech company Mphasis.

The cloud and cognitive services provider based in Bangalore, India announced Wednesday that it would be building its Canadian headquarters in Calgary, bringing 500 to 1,000 jobs in the next two years.

The southern Alberta city will also become home to a quantum computing learning space as Mphasis partners with the University of Calgary to create the Quantum City centre of excellence.

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And Wednesday saw the announcement of Sparkle Calgary, a training facility focusing on AI and automation technology using the company’s proprietary platform.

Premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday’s announcements will help further the province’s goal of economic diversification.

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“The goal is to make Alberta a force to be reckoned with in quantum computing, machine learning and AI, economically but also intellectually,” he said.

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“As the labour market shifts, workers will have the resources they need to adapt,” the premier said. “And as quantum computing, automation, and artificial intelligence mature, Alberta will become a destination of choice for investment capital and talent in those growing sectors.”

Mphasis CEO Nitin Rakesh called it “a great showcase of private-public partnership, a catalyst for tech transformation.”

Rakesh said the tech company is using similar models they’ve used in other countries, in both expansion and talent centres.

“Talent is a magnet for companies building talent at University of Calgary and here in Alberta. (It) strengthens both Mphasis and Alberta as a global technology hub, and a leader in IT, quantum computing, blockchain, FinTech, data, AI (and) in many other fields,” the MPhasis CEO said.

Rakesh said he looked forward to having the university as “an anchor for research” and development of Quantum City.

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“The aim is to double the fundamental research in quantum science and engineering and production of highly qualified graduates while simultaneously providing the industry facing opportunities for collaboration, company creation and technology development.”

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University of Calgary president Ed McCauley said the establishment of Quantum City shows the strength of the university as a “great research university,” akin to some leading universities in other cities.

“Today, Pittsburgh is a leading robotics hub, is a technology leader and medical cluster,” McCauley said. “That can happen here too, because as the technology and people cultivated by the quantum hub seep into Calgary, they will spin off even newer technology in new companies, until Calgary and Alberta aren’t only the energy capital.”

Rakesh added that Sparkle Calgary will try to pivot the core skills that exist in the market, pointing out the existing data expertise in the oil and gas sector.

“Can we take that ability to apply data knowledge, data scientists and reskill them — upskill them — towards computing platforms that are being used for consumer data? That’s the vision that we want to use with the Sparkle Calgary platform.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Mphasis’ announcement reinforces the decision of the company to emphasize tech as a growth industry.

“It builds the platform here, and it builds the ecosystem here as Calgary continues to attract tech companies and others to this place, cementing our spot as a centre for innovation and digital technology in the world, as per our economic development strategy Calgary In The New Economy,” Nenshi said.

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The mayor added that the latest tech company announcing it plans to have its headquarters in Calgary is another signal for a demographically young city.

“It really is a signal, to young people in particular, that Calgary remains a place of great innovation, great entrepreneurship, a place where you want to make a living and a place where you want to make your life.”

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